Tag Archives: seoul

The Best Pizza in the World?

Warning: Trivial Post while I’m jet-lagged.

Okay, so the title of this post is a cheap way to get people to read what I’m about to write (and I truly covet your responses to see if I’m crazy), but at least I’m going to be forthright and share that my thoughts have little to do with pizza and more to do with me and my heritage.

I’ll save you all from the suspense and share where I claim the best pizza in the world is found: Seoul, South Korea.

Before you hurl stones at me, let me explain that it took me some time to come to this conclusion, and this is only after visiting Italy for the first time earlier this year, then rediscovering my love for NYC pizza, and finally coming to Seoul this summer for me to realize that I truly believe the best pizza in the world is found in Seoul.

Of the aforementioned places, I actually surmised a few months ago that NYC pizza was my favorite pizza city… until I came back to Seoul to confirm what I truly believed for a couple of years but could never admit.

Before you accuse me of being a homer, I want you to know that I don’t even think that Korean food is the best in Seoul (Los Angeles would have that distinction).

Okay, now that the caveats are out of the way, here’s why I think Seoul has the best the pizza in the world.

Mr-Pizza-Korea

Mr. Pizza is one of my favorite pizza chains in the entire world. The Chinese think so too!

1) The Bread – If you ask most New Yorkers, the reason the pizza and bagels taste so good is because of the water.

I’ve heard this so many times and from so many people (natives, transplants, people who have never lived in NYC) that I’ve just adopted this as true without any empirical research.

And seriously, what I have known to be true is that NYC pizza and bagels just taste better than anywhere else.  In fact, the bread in NYC is just so dang good – any bread really.

However, have you ever had the bread in Korea?

The bread here is SO delicious!

Anything from pastries to pretzels to pizza – the bread here is AMAZING.

Whenever I come to Seoul, I can’t wait to eat bread.

2) The Copycat Instincts – This is a total generalization, but Koreans tend to be really good at copying things, and then adding a subtle twist (Samsung, ahem).

I find this in myself too – I mostly just love reading/listening/copying from all sorts of Pastors/Thinkers over the years and regurgitating stuff to people.

Anyhow, this topic deserves another blog post.

But as South Korea has grown as a global country and Koreans have traveled the world, Koreans have seen/heard/tasted the finest this world has to offer, and the same is true for food.

This dynamic isn’t unique to Korea though. How else could some of the best ramen places in NYC be run by a Jewish guy and another be run by a family named Smookler (shout out to Mu Ramen in LIC)?

Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that all sorts of non-Korean food restaurants have emerged in Seoul the past 20 years.

I can’t tell you how many Italian places I’ve seen here, and Mr. Pizza, a Korean pizza chain, is easily one of my favorite pizza places in the world (Apparently the Chinese think so too according to the above Wikipedia link)!

3) The Flavor – Okay, I’m not quite sure how to describe this, because I have a rather savage palate and usually anything that’s meaty in taste and texture is fine by me.

But the flavor of just about everything here appeals to me – the spicyness/acidity, the freshness, the sweetness/sourness, etc.

I admit this is probably because I’m Korean, but all the non-Korean food I eat here I absolutely love.

I love ordering jja-jjang-myun in Korea.

I can eat jja-jjang-myun in Korea every meal every day.

I can eat jja-jjang-myun in Korea every meal every day.

Random Question for Chinese friends who have had jja-jjang-myun in Korea and Chinese jja-jjang-myun anywhere else: Which do you prefer?

For me it’s Korea hands-down, but uh, I’m biased.

I love ordering burgers at Kraze Burger and even Mcdonalds & Burger King.

I never thought I’d say that I like eating non-Korean food in Korea, but eating non-Korean food in Korea actually one of my favorite things to do while I’m here.

That and munching on as many Korean gwa-jahs (snacks) as I can find. Delicious.

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Anyhow, I’d love to hear what you think, especially those of you who have had pizza in Korea. Am I way off or am I on to something? 

Reflections from Seoul – October 2013

Tina, David, and I got back late last night from Seoul, and despite our ruthless bout with jetlag, it’s good to be home.

The past few years, whenever I’ve gone to Seoul, my trips there have afforded me an opportunity for extended reflection, an oddity considering the pace and scope of a city life Seoul.

This time was no different, and I thought I’d share some reflections from my time.

1.  My Parents’ Generation Knows Suffering and Sacrifice In a Way I Will Likely Never Know – It’s amazing seeing photos from my parents’ childhood.  South Korea was a war-torn country, and the stories they tell of the scarcity of food and resources is astounding.

Seoul is an amazing modern, advanced city today.

Seoul is an amazing modern, advanced city today.

And yet, if you were to go to Seoul, you would see/know so little of that kind of life.  Seoul is one of the most modernized, bustling, technologically booming cities in the world.

This might be generalizing things way too much, but the city and people (including immigrants who have come to the States) have profited from a generation of people like my dad and mom who have worked tirelessly for the well-being of the next generation.

Bringing David with us was a special treat (and considerably cheaper because he’s not yet 2 years-old), and I thought a lot about the kinds of sacrifices I want to make for him.

I teared up thinking about all the fears and difficulties my parents had to face as they uprooted themselves from their native land, learned a new language and culture, faced endless battles with racism and not-spicy enough food…

In all seriousness, I hope I can be as brave and sacrificial for my family the way my parents have been for me.

2.  I Want to Go Back to Blogging More – Starting a church and having a newborn was a bit difficult to manage time-wise, but I think I’m ready to dive back into blogging since it’s something I really enjoy.  Please pray for me as I made this decision coincide with the start of the NBA season.

(I know, it’s funny to write about sacrifice then write about how I want more time to myself!)

If it wasn't for Tina, I wouldn't take David to go meet Tigers like this one.

If it wasn’t for Tina, I wouldn’t take David to go meet Tigers like this one.

3.  Tina has Increased My Life Experiences by 1000% – Trust me, I would not travel this much if it were not for her, and I would not climb up Namsan Tower (Seoul Tower) or go to Aquariums or Zoos if it wasn’t for her.  She’s expanded my life in so many ways!

4.  Speaking of Tina, I Married a True Gem – I try not to write about Tina as much, because she really prefers to be anonymous and unknown in many ways.  But seeing her spend time with her grandmother, aunt, and other family members was truly a treat.  It’s amazing how much love Tina has for extended family, and how she creates an environment of warmth with those she loves.

5.  I LOVE Hanging Out with David, Especially at His Age – David’s almost 21 months now, and he’s so flippin’ cute.  He’s talking a bit now, and it’s so much fun communicating with him.  My favorite line from him is hearing him say, “Are you okay, Abba?” when he knows I’m flustered.

800px-HotteokfillingWith Tina running errands around the city and me being phoneless, David and I spent a lot of time together strolling the streets of Seoul, neither of us able to communicate clearly with the locals there.

Thankfully, we both learned how to say “hodduk” with amazing accuracy.

6.  I Feel So Incredibly Thankful to Be Part of Hope Church NYC – The last time I was in Seoul, the seeds of Hope were planted, and it’s amazing how far God has brought us since then.  While I was away for 10 days, the church flourished without me, which is an absolute dream.

It helps to work with awesome leaders like Kristian Hernandez, Craig Okpala, Dan Sadlier, and Amanda Chapman, each who led in different ways over the past few days.

Oh, and just so you know, Dan Sadlier & Amanda Sadlier are starting a new church on Roosevelt Island that launches soon, and yep, it’s gonna be awesome.

7.  This Might Be Bold, But Seoul is My Favorite Food City – I love, love, love the food in Seoul.  It has the best Korean food overall (although Korean BBQ in LA is probably better), and all the stuff I like from other countries – pizza, burgers, fried stuff, street food – are actually really good in Seoul.  Somehow all of those things, especially the bread in Seoul, really fits my palate, and I came to the startling revelation that I like eating in Seoul more than I like eating in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, or Berkeley.

The one thing I missed is Mexican food, but we actually tried this fusion Korean-Mexican place that was delicious.

Oh, and Ippudo opened in Seoul for half the price and no wait whatsoever.

Oh, and did I mention Hodduk?